12 top restaurants for every kind of date in Los Angeles

Caviar service with traditional accompaniments at Mr. Wanderlust in Los Angeles
A sultry night at Mr. Wanderlust, a theatrical piano bar and lounge, begins with caviar service. | Credit: Mr. Wanderlust

LA’s most romantic restaurants are made for all kinds of relationship statuses. If you’re just getting started, there’s a bi-level tapas spot with excellent Spanish wines. When you’re ready to introduce your friends to your SO, do it at a lively West African fusion place with share plates galore. Epic celebrations call for a classic steakhouse with a sweeping patio. 

This guide pairs LA’s restaurants with romantic occasions from first dates all the way to milestone anniversaries. These are LA’s 12 best date-night restaurants.

For a first date

Xuntos (Santa Monica)

The golden lights at this bi-level tapas spot make sure everyone looks good—critical to a smooth first date. Start at the bar or one of the stand-up high-tops and sip on Spanish wines and sherries, which pair well with chef Sandra Cordero’s top-notch pintxos like scallops with saffron butter. If things are going really well, move to an upstairs table and keep the small-plates party going.

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For a second date

Dunsmoor (Glassell Park) 

Pickled and preserve vegetables, chopped chicken liver with bacon, onion, and rosemary preserves and more at Dunsmoor in Los Angeles
Chef Brian Dunsmoor’s wood-fired specialties draw couples to Dunsmoor. | Credit: Antonio Diaz

The flickering lights from chef Brian Dunsmoor’s wood-fired hearth and the tapered candles on the long wooden tables set the scene for one romantic night at this Glasswell Park favorite. Share the chef’s signature cornbread, slathered in cultured butter and honey, and other hits like Kobe beef tartare with sunchokes. If you’re drinking, make sure to chat up one of the knowledgeable servers to help you pick a bottle from one of LA’s most exciting wine lists.  

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For an anniversary or romantic milestone

Baltaire (Brentwood) 

Baltaire wows couples with its sleek, mid-century modern design and classic steakhouse faithfuls. Celebrate a special occasion with dinner under the stars on the restaurant’s sweeping patio, where you can enjoy everything from pristine seafood towers to prime bone-in ribeyes and more. If you want to kick things up a notch, add caviar service, a rare single-malt scotch, or a selection from the extensive Champagne list.

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Osteria Mozza (Hollywood)

Famed chef Nancy Silverton’s Osteria Mozza is a dimly lit, white tablecloth staple that’s a top choice for an all-out special-occasion date. Celebrate over a refined lineup of Italian food like grilled octopus, crispy duck confit, and housemade pasta—plus an impressive Old World wine list to match. (And if it’s a more casual moment, don’t miss next-door sibling Pizzeria Mozza.)

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For a proposal-worthy place

Redbird – Los Angeles (Downtown) 

Chef Neal Fraser’s Downtown icon is a celebration go-to for many reasons, including its opulent, former cathedral setting and imaginative American dishes, to name a few. Which is why it’s an ideal place to pop the question while splurging on black truffle cavatelli and a porterhouse for two. Not to mention an extensive Champagne list, which makes toasting especially convenient after the yes.

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For a group date

Two Hommés (Inglewood)

The Afro-Latin food at this modern-casual spot (run by two longtime friends who started with a street taco spot) is perfect for a big crew. Spread out on one of the wooden picnic tables, take in the throwback R&B tunes, and share dish after dish, like honey berbere chicken bites and passion fruit ceviche with shrimp and scallops. Then devour a big platter of jollof rice studded with black beans, plantains, and more.

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Esperanza (Manhattan Beach)

Intricate white pendant lights at Esperanza in Los Angeles
The interiors at Mexican restaurant Esperanza evoke a sexy beachside fiesta. | Credit: Esperanza

If you’re looking for a lively group date spot in the South Bay, you can’t do better than Esperanza. The Mexican hotspot channels a beachside fiesta with a shareable Sonoran-inspired menu, featuring halibut street tacos and tostadas with shredded beef and refried beans. Kick off your evening together with the guacamole trio and keep the good times flowing with hand-shaken margaritas, rimmed with pasilla chile salt.

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For an adventurous and transportive date

Yangban (Arts District)

Critically acclaimed Yangban is loved for its boundary-pushing Korean American menu—and where you go for one very transportive meal. Wife-and-husband team Katianna Hong and John Hong crank out beautiful mashups like lobster congee pot pie and matzoh ball mandu. Add a freshly renovated dining room with black leather banquettes and dramatic light fixtures, and you’ve got a date night for the books.

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Guelaguetza (Koreatown)

Various Oaxacan dishes placed on a colorful tablecloth at Los Angeles restaurant Guelaguetza
Guelaguetza is a decades-old Koreatown institution loved for its complex Oaxacan moles and festive vibes. | Credit: Guelaguetza

Take a trip to Oaxaca in the middle of Koreatown. This beloved, long-standing spot from the Lopez family serves cantina classics like housemade moles and chiles rellenos in a cheerful space decorated with floral tablecloths and lots of greenery. Bonus points for the restaurant’s roaming mariachi band, which will serenade you and your date as you dine.

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For a cozy and intimate evening

Saffy’s (East Hollywood)

The curvy pink and gold bar at Saffy’s in Los Angeles
The curvy bar at Saffy’s is the kind of cozy-chic escape you want to become a regular at. | Credit: Joseph Weaver

Chefs Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis are well-known in Los Angeles for their hotspots Bestia, Bavel, and Saffy’s, their more casual Middle Eastern restaurant. Saffy’s serves up no-utensils-required classics like kebabs, shawarma, and falafel wraps. Post up at the curved bar or get cozy in one of the gold banquettes at this laidback and low-pressure date-night spot that you’ll want to return to.

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AOC – 3rd Street (West Hollywood)

Break bread together—mushroom focaccia, to be precise—at this LA institution. AOC is a French Mediterranean restaurant known for a knockout courtyard and seasonal small plates made with Cali-fresh ingredients, plus a solid sustainable wine selection. Tapas-style food means you can graze on faves like Spanish fried chicken and green quinoa dumplings. And even if you don’t get everything you want on round one, know that you’ll keep coming back to this extra-inviting wine bar. 

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For an evening of eatertainment

Mr. Wanderlust at Level 8 (Downtown)

An aerialist swings from a chandelier, surrounded by bookshelves at Mr. Wanderlust.
An evening at the library-like Mr. Wanderlust could feature a performance by an aerialist. | Credit: Mr. Wanderlust at Level 8

You’ll get dinner and all sorts of entertainment at this sprawling restaurant-bar complex. But the best show unfolds at Mr. Wanderlust, a library-like drinks den with live DJs, musicians, and aerialists who swing from the restaurant’s chandelier. You and your date can take in the spectacle over luxe snacks like pork chicharrones with sumac-vadouvan spice and shrimp cocktail with wasabi sauce. Cocktails by some of the country’s top bartenders dial up the wow factor.

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Tried them all? Check out other options here.

Karen Palmer is a pizza- and pasta-obsessed food writer based in Los Angeles. Follow her on Instagram at @karenlpalmer.

Kristin Braswell contributed to this guide.

Find your table for any occasion